International Women's Day - Brief history & more

What is International Women’s Day? 

International Women's Day is a global day occurring every year on March 8, celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.  

More than a century ago, International Women’s Day started to aim for equal rights, equal pay, end harmful workplace conditions, and an end to exploitation. Today, those aims are still relevant. 


History of International Women’s Day 

In 1908, against a backdrop of terrible working conditions and exploitation, 15,000 women took to the streets protesting for shorter hours, better pay and voting rights in United States.  

The next year, in 1909, the Socialist Party of America announced a National Women’s Day to honour the strikers, and in 1910 it went global – the Socialist International voted for the creation of International Women’s Day to give women a greater voice to further their demands for equal rights. 

It was unanimously approved by the female attendees from 17 countries, including Finland’s first three women MPs. International Women’s Day was marked for the first time in March 1911. 

For most of the 20th century International Women’s Day was acknowledged and celebrated by people at the grassroots level, a rallying point for social justice. It wasn’t until 1975 – International Women’s Year – that the United Nations adopted International Women’s Day on 8 March, where it is celebrated it for the first time 

Its first annual theme: "Celebrating the past, Planning for the Future" was announced in 1996. 


Yearly Theme 

There is a theme yearly till this day, and the theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is ‘Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender equal future’. This theme is based on the United Nations 67th Commission on the Status of Women priority theme ‘Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”.  

Bringing women and other marginalized groups into technology results in more creative solutions and has greater potential for innovations that meet women’s needs and promote gender equality.  Also, a gender-responsive approach to innovation, technology and digital education can increase the awareness of women and girls regarding their rights and civic engagement.